Another top prospect in the 2020 class is spurning college basketball to pursue a professional career. Jalen Green, ranked No. 3 in the 2020 class by 247Sports, announced Thursday that he won't play college basketball and will pursue an opportunity in the NBA's developmental G League.
He is the second five-star prospect this week to choose the pro ranks after No. 13 overall prospect Isaiah Todd announced his decommitment from Michigan to turn pro on Tuesday.
"At the end of the day, it's been a crazy exciting journey for me and my family," Green said on an Instagram live broadcast. "A lot of opportunities have came. But the ultimate end goal is to get to the NBA. So with that being said, I've decided to partner with the NBA G-League's new team for elite players."
Green's decision to play in the G-League comes as the league is chartering a new program designed to attract top prospects who might have otherwise considered playing college basketball or venturing overseas to begin their professional careers. The league initially indicated it would pay salaries of up to $125,000 to top prospects, but that figure has since increased, according to 247Sports. ESPN reported Thursday that top prospects who choose the G-League route could now be in line to make more than $500,000.
Green is also expected to play for a specially designed G-League team that competes outside the parameters of the league's usual framework, which consists of 28 teams affiliated with NBA franchises. The NBA said in a statement that, "Details of the new team Green will play for, which will be unaffiliated with any existing NBA G League franchise or NBA team, are forthcoming.
Prospects who opt to play in the G League will also be allowed to sign endorsement deals that would be deemed impermissible in college basketball. By gaining a commitment from Green, who is considered a likely lottery pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the G League also capitalized on the uncertainty surrounding major collegiate athletics amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
While professional sports leagues are exploring avenues to resume competition as soon as this summer, college athletic leaders struck a more cautious tone about when NCAA competition will resume during a call with Vice President Mike Pence this week.
"Our message was, we need to get universities and colleges back open, that we were education-based programs, and we weren't going to have sports until we had something closer to normal college going on," Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby
Auburn and Memphis were Green's top college choices, and he told Yahoo Sports that Memphis would have been his option if he'd chosen to attend college. Green's impact on either of their rosters would have been immense. Auburn is replacing its top six scorers and Memphis is likely to lose AAC Player of the Year Precious Achiuwa to the NBA Draft.
But each will have to navigate the 2020-21 season without the services of Green, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard who cemented his place as a likely 2021 lottery pick while playing his final season of high school basketball at Prolific Prep in Napa, California.
Green and Todd are not the first prominent prospects in recent memory to elect to skip college without an immediate path to the NBA available.
MarJon Beauchamp, the No. 39 prospect in this year's class, is forgoing college to train for the 2021 NBA Draft, and No. 66 overall prospect Kenyon Martin Jr. is turning pro as well. Last season, top-25 prospects RJ Hampton and LaMelo Ball elected to skip college and play in the National Basketball League based in Australia. Both are expected to be first-round picks in this year's NBA Draft, and Ball could be the No. 1 pick.
But if Green's decision is any indication, the days of top prospects choosing to go overseas to begin their professional careers may be over as the G League has now shown it has the allure -- and the cash -- to attract top young talent.